With the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing accounted for (one dead – Tamelan, the other in custody – Dzhokhar), and more details of the story emerging, I’ve been spending some time thinking about the issues of liberty and security, considering the breadth and scope of the massive manhunt for the Tsarnaev brothers.
Massachusetts State Police issued a plea on Twitter for residents of Watertown to lock their doors and not open them for anyone, as dozens of police officers, many of them off duty, searched backyards and exteriors of houses there, and a police perimeter of several blocks was established.Worried residents were also told to turn off their cell phones out of fear that they could trigger improvised explosive devices.
No doubt it was a tense time as authorities were searching for Dzhokhar; who knew what kind of IEDs or other weapons he was carrying, or what he might do to escape. Governor Deval Patrick (D) even issued a “shelter in place” or lockdown order for the area. However, as far as I know, such an order does not equal Martial Law and signal a suspension of habeas corpus and other civil liberties (and as far as I know, the military can’t get involved in domestic law enforcement without congressional approval).
The reason I bring this up is because it appears that contrary to many news reports, the searches conducted by the police were not only of backyards and house exteriors, but also of the inside of houses as well. Judging by the video below, it also appears that these home searches were not necessarily voluntary:
Watertown residents–finally able to leave their homes around 8:45 p.m.–broke into cheers and applauded police officers after word spread that the suspect was in custody.
“We’re so grateful to bring justice and closure to this case,” Alben said at a 9:30 p.m. press conference. “We’re exhausted … but we have a victory here tonight.” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said he could find no explanation for the “savagery” of the attacks, but that the capture made him proud to be a Boston police officer.
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.